UN inquiry debate starts in Parliament

Wednesday, 18 June 2014 00:19 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Ashwin Hemmathagama Our Lobby Correspondent Parliament yesterday began debating the motion to launch a UN investigation into alleged war crimes during the war, with Government and Opposition legislators trading charges on human rights issues. Moving the motion, UPFA MP Janaka Bandara said the UN Human Rights Council had informed the Government that a team of 12 would be arriving in Sri Lanka in mid-June. “This team will be here in the island till April 2015 for 10 months to conduct an in-depth investigation on the war crimes and human rights violations that took place between 2002 and 2009,” the MP told the House. Bandara said all members of the House were sworn to protect the Constitution. “With an international team coming here to investigate, it will violate the Constitution, especially Articles 1, 3 and 4,” he charged. UPFA MP A.H.M. Azwer held that the country was at a crucial juncture. He said that throughout the country’s history, Muslims had supported Sri Lanka in its fight against foreign forces. “Once again we will join forces to fight against the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights,” Azwer told Parliament. The motion was presented with the signatures of nine members of the ruling party. However, Opposition MP Mangala Samaraweera said it was President Mahinda Rajapaksa who had first taken the country’s domestic issues to the United Nations during the 1990s. Samaraweera charged that the Government had destroyed judicial independence by sacking the Chief Justice in 2013 and thereby destroyed any credibility internationally about having a robust justice system that could properly investigate alleged rights abuses. JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, who also joined the debate, charged that the Government had to investigate scores of rights abuses that had nothing to do with the war. Achala Jagodage, Malani Fonseka, Janaka Bandara, Udith Lokubandara, A.H.M. Azwer, Shantha Bandara, J.R.P. Suriyapperuma, Nimal Wijesinghe and R. Duminda Silva submitted the resolution to Parliament last week, resolving to prevent the UN inquiry on Sri Lanka.